Tag: New Zealand

New Zealand: Privacy after death does matter

27. July 2018

Data protection rights generally refer to living persons only. Among others, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) explicitly mentions in its Recital 27 that the Regulation does not apply to the personal data of deceased persons.

However, the Recital also contains an opening clause for the EU Member States, stating that these may provide for specific rules for such cases. The GDPR hereby acknowledges that there might be cases that need to be tackled individually.

For example, requests can be made in order to find out whether the deceased had suffered from a hereditary disease. This information is not to be seen as protected for the offspring that might be affected by it.

Consequently, there will be situations that contain mixed information on both the deceased and the requestor.

The Privacy Commissioner’s Office (OPC) of New Zealand has now released a statement regarding the privacy of deceased persons on July 24th, 2018 taking up this exact issue.

Whereas the Privacy Act of New Zealand also defines an individual as a “natural person, other than a deceased person”, the OPC states that “sometimes it will be inappropriate to release the personal information of the dead”.

The OPC further says that “some information is inherently sensitive, for example mental or sexual health information. It could be unfair to release such information to those who are just curious and have no good reason to see it.”

Ultimately, it will often be necessary to balance the rights and elaborate case by case, also taking into consideration the wishes of the deceased person to some extent.

New Zealand: Police uses backdoor in law to gather private data

5. September 2017

According to the New Zealand Council of Civil Liberties, in several cases private data was handed over by banks to the police, after the police requested these data from them. It is further explained that the police used forms that looked official, instead of applying to a judge for a search warrant or examination. The police should neither have an oversight, nor a register which tracks the amount of filed requests.

The Police and banks rely on a legal loophole in the Privacy Act that allows organisations to reveal information about persons in order “to avoid prejudice to the maintenance of the law”. The Privacy Commissioner John Edwards is willing to end the further use of this backdoor. Referring to the case of handing over the private information of activist and journalist Martyn Bradbury, he said:

“…we concluded that Police had collected this information in an unlawful way by asking for such sensitive information without first putting the matter before a judicial officer. Our view is that this was a breach of Principle 4 of the Privacy Act, which forbids agencies from collecting information in an unfair, unreasonable or unlawful way.”